Thanksgiving sensory bins are the perfect way to keep your toddlers engaged, entertained, and creatively exploring while you prepare for the holiday season.

These sensory bins are fun and provide a great opportunity for your child to play independently for a while. I always use these opportunities to clean up, do some meal prep, or just relax for once!

So, let’s dive into the world of Thanksgiving sensory bins and discover how to create them for your little munchkins!

What is a Sensory Bin?

Before we delve into the world of Thanksgiving-themed sensory bins, let’s start with the basics.

A sensory bin is a hands-on play activity that allows children to explore different textures, materials, and objects.

These bins typically contain various items that promote sensory stimulation and imaginative play.

Sensory bins are excellent tools for keeping young children engaged, enhancing their cognitive development, and improving fine motor skills.

toddler digging in thanksgiving sensory bin hide and seek

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin Bases

The foundation of any sensory bin is its base.

For a Thanksgiving-themed sensory bin, consider using materials that evoke the essence of the fall season.

Here are some autumn-inspired base options:

  1. Pom Poms: pom poms provide a unique, fuzzy texture as a base for your sensory bin. Kids love squishing and transferring them! Plus, you can get packs of these with autumn colors.
  2. Colored Rice: To mimic the fall foliage, dye rice with warm autumn colors such as red, orange, and brown. Simply place white rice in a ziplock bag and add a few drops of food coloring, then shake until the rice is evenly colored. Let it dry before using it as the base for your sensory bin.
  3. Dried Corn: Corn kernels are not only visually appealing but also provide a unique texture for little hands to explore. They are reminiscent of cornucopias and Thanksgiving feasts.
  4. Beans: Use a mix of different beans, like pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans, to create a colorful and textured base that captures the spirit of the season.
  5. Kinetic Sand: While kinetic sand is not a natural option, it’s an excellent choice for a sensory bin. Its moldable texture allows for endless creative play, and you can easily incorporate Thanksgiving-themed figurines and accessories.
  6. Water: Water can be a great sensory bin base as you can experiment with floating, sinking, pouring, and all the fun that comes with splashing. To add some Thanksgiving flair, provide your child with a plastic turkey baster or ladle for scooping and transferring objects.
floating lights in thanksgiving water sensory bin

Choose the base that suits your child’s age and preferences.

Now, let’s move on to the fun part – adding themed items to your Thanksgiving sensory bin.

Thanksgiving Sensory Bin Add-Ins

To make your Thanksgiving sensory bin truly special, you’ll want to add some themed items that your little one can discover and play with. Here’s a list of engaging add-ins:

  1. Mini Pumpkins: Small, plastic pumpkins or gourds are a great addition to your sensory bin, allowing your child to create a miniature pumpkin patch.
exploring the thanksgiving sensory bin
  1. Acorns: Collect some real or faux acorns to incorporate into your sensory bin. They add a natural element and a fun texture.
  2. Thanksgiving Figurines: Look for little turkey figurines, pilgrims, ducks, or scarecrows to represent the spirit of Thanksgiving.
  3. Fall Leaves: Gather colorful artificial leaves or felt leaves that your toddler can use for sorting and decorating.
thanksgiving sensory bin with pumpkins and leaves
  1. Miniature Baskets: Mini woven baskets are a cute addition representing the idea of gathering harvest.
  2. Small Utensils: Include child-safe scoops and tongs to encourage fine motor skills while playing with the sensory bin.

Now that your sensory bin is taking shape, consider creating different themed variations to keep things interesting.

Here are a couple of Thanksgiving-themed sensory bin ideas to inspire you.

Thanksgiving Water Play Sensory Bin with Floating Tealights

This sensory bin combines the best of water play and sensory exploration, creating a dynamic and engaging experience for your toddler.

up close thanksgiving water sensory bin

Materials:

  • Large plastic container
  • Water
  • Fall-themed objects (e.g., plastic leaves, miniature pumpkins, turkey figurines)
  • Floating candles
  • A plastic turkey baster or ladle
thanksgiving water sensory bin idea

Instructions:

  1. Fill a large plastic container with water.
  2. Add fall-themed objects like plastic leaves, miniature pumpkins, and turkey figurines to the water.
  3. Place floating candles on the water’s surface to create a warm ambiance.
  4. Provide a plastic turkey baster or ladle for your child to scoop up water and transfer objects from one side of the container to the other.
girl playing with water thanskgiving sensory bin

This water play sensory bin will entertain your toddler and introduce them to buoyancy and water displacement concepts.

And those floating tealights are just flat-out mesmerizing!

Thanksgiving Hide & Seek Sensory Bin

This sensory bin focuses on a fun game of hide and seek, making it an educational and enjoyable activity for toddlers.

hide and seek thanksgiving sensory bin

Materials:

  • Sensory bin base (e.g., colored rice, beans, or kinetic sand)
  • Miniature Thanksgiving figurines (turkey, pilgrims, acorns, etc.) – we used Thanksgiving-themed ducks and then had fun ducking Jeeps around town!
  • Small bowls or cups
  • Tweezers or child-safe tongs

Instructions:

  1. Fill your sensory bin with the chosen base material, and ensure you have enough to hide items!
  2. Hide the miniature Thanksgiving figurines within the base.
toddler playing in thanksgiving sensory bin with ducks and beans
  1. Provide small bowls or cups and child-safe tweezers or tongs.
  2. Encourage your child to search for the hiding figurines!
toddler playing in thanksgiving sensory bin with beans

This hide and seek sensory bin promotes cognitive development and fine motor skills while keeping your toddler engaged.

finding thanksgiving sucks in sensory bin

Thanksgiving Pom Pom Sensory Bin

Pom poms are such a fun sensory bin base, and you can use them for all sorts of other craft ideas when you’re done.

Here’s how to create a Thanksgiving-themed sensory bin that uses pom poms for the base.

thanksgiving sensory bin

Materials:

  • Autumn-colored pom poms
  • Miniature Thanksgiving figurines (turkey, scarecrows, pilgrims, acorns, etc.)
  • Autumn leaves
  • Mini pumpkins
  • Mini woven baskets
  • Small bowls or cups
  • Ladle, tweezers, or child-safe tongs

Instructions:

  1. Fill your sensory bin with the autumn-colored pom poms.
  2. Add all of your Thanksgiving and fall-themed items to the bin, including leaves, turkeys, acorns, pumpkins, baskets, and whatever else you can find!
  3. Provide objects for scooping and transferring, such as a ladle, tweezers, or child-safe tongs.
  4. Encourage your child to explore and work on those fine-motor skills!
thanksgiving sensory bin ideas

Assembling Your Thanksgiving Sensory Bin

Creating a Thanksgiving sensory bin for toddlers is as easy as pumpkin pie! Here are some general instructions to help you get started:

  1. Choose a Suitable Container: Select an age-appropriate container for your child that allows enough room to explore without making a huge mess. A shallow, wide container works well.
  2. Prepare the Base: Fill your container with your chosen sensory bin base material, whether it’s colored rice, dried corn, beans, water, or kinetic sand. Ensure the base is deep enough to hold the add-ins but not so deep your child can’t easily reach in.
  3. Add the Themed Items: Add the Thanksgiving-themed items into the base material. Ensure the items are spread evenly to encourage exploration.
  4. Engage Your Toddler: Introduce your little one to the sensory bin and let their imagination run wild. You can join in the play or simply observe from the sidelines, depending on your child’s age and comfort.
  5. Supervise and Encourage Creativity: While sensory bins are a great way for toddlers to play independently, always supervise their playtime, especially if there’s a chance they’ll ingest some of the base. Encourage your child to describe what they’re doing and ask open-ended questions to stimulate their imagination.
  6. Clean-Up: When playtime is over, store the sensory bin components in a sealed container for future use.

Conclusion

Thanksgiving sensory bins for toddlers are an excellent way to infuse the spirit of the season into your little one’s playtime while promoting independent play and sensory exploration.

Gather your materials, assemble your sensory bin, and watch your little one delight in the magic of Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!

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